Located in the middle of Alexanderplatz is the impressive Berliner Fernsehturm or TV Tower. The tallest building in Berlin, this 368 metre tall tower is visible everywhere!
The TV Tower was built from 1965-69 by the East German government, defying West German with its dizzying height. Below its lofty antenna is a shiny steel sphere, that reflects the cross from the nearby Marienkirche, called "the Pope's revenge" by the West Berliners.
You can take a lift up to the viewing platform, 203 metres above the ground. On a clear day you can see for almost 40kms. Above the observation deck there is the Tele-Café, a revolving restaurant offering those same fabulous views.
The TV Tower is also available for weddings, so if you fancy getting married 203 metres in the air, just speak to the Berlin-Mitte registry office and invite up to 200 of your closest friends and family!
The only times we had the chance to go up the tower the weather was a bit grey, so we will just have to go back to Berlin and check out those views another time.
Opening Hours: March - October: 9.00 am - midnight and November - February: 10.00 am - midnight
If it is a clear day and the line isn't too long I would definitely reccomend heading up for some nice views. The elevator ride takes you up about 200m in 40 seconds which is a bit of fun. There are directional indicators and an hour can easily be idled away gazing out at the skyline recognising the citys famous landmarks.
The history of the tower is very interesting. The former GDR saw the necessity to build a powerful transmitter in the middle of the eastern part of Berlin and in addition to this the Television Tower was meant to become an architectural and political symbol. Each year now about 1 million people visit the tower to soak in the views and have the opportunity to enjoy the restaurant at the top that rotates twice an hour.
Opening hours are:
March - October: 9.00 am - 1.00 am
November - February: 10.00 am - midnight
Adults: 7.50 Euro
up to 16 years: 3.50 Euro
The TV Tower is a spectacular construction, and with a height of 368 metres Germany’s tallest structure. However, although it is Berlin’s most visible landmark, it is surely not the most beautiful one. To me it is important as a symbol of the reunification, having been the most striking feature of East Berlin’s cityscape. And it is a great place for looking over Berlin, and/or have a drink or dinner in the silver ball which sits at an altitude of 203 metres above Alexanderplatz.
The fact that is was built at all was simply the GDR regime needing a transmitter with enough potential to reach the remotest regions of the East. Construction time was from 1964 to 1968, and in 1969 it went into service.
When the weather is fine you can see as far as 40 kilometres and more from the observation deck at 203 metres. One storey above this is the Telecafé which makes a 360 degree turn within 30 minutes. If you want to experience that, come and check the queues. One million visitors head up to the tower every year.
A little amusing story: The SED party wanted the East Berliners to call the TV Tower “Tele-Spargel” (Tele-Asparagus) but they ignored the wish. Instead they called it “St. Walter” (after the party leader Walter Ulbricht, you know, the one who kissed Breshnev on the mouth…) – but most commonly I heard “Imponierkeule” and “Protzstengel” which means show-off club or swank stem. I think “show-off club” describes the shape of the tower very well ;-)
Similar was the nickname of the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic): “Palazzo Protzi” (show-off palace). But those were names I heard in the past. Today the TV Tower is just called Fernsehturm. After the reunification the people seem to be a lot more relaxed.
And another amusing story about the TV Tower: As you know the GDR regime was totally anti-religion and anti-church. But when the sun shines on the silver ball at the top, it is always reflected as a cross. The joke goes that this was "the Pope's final revenge".
Open Mar – Oct: 9am – midnight; Nov – Feb: 10am – midnight
Admission 12 Euro (as Oct. 2012), children under 16 years 7.50 Euro
Regarding the waiting times, you do not have to queue for 3 hours at peak times. Having bought your ticket, you can choose an SMS alert system which notifies you about 30 minutes before you can access the tower that your turn is coming soon. Inside the tower a digital display shows the ticket numbers of the people who are allowed up the stairs to the elevator (and some more queueing...)
Update October 2012: The fastest way up
On my recent Berlin visit I found out by coincidence how to get to the viewing platform of the TV Tower rather fast - well noted, on a day when the waiting time was 2.5 to 3 hours. Obviously we arrived at exactly the right time when the "Spreekaiser" (Emperor of the river Spree...) stood in front of the entrance and offered his tour. You pay 19 Euro (normal ticket price 12 Euro), jump the queues in the VIP lane, and are on top of Berlin in no time. On top of this you get to hear incredibly informative comments on anything you see and the history of the city. It really was fantastic.
The tour times were still patchy but we were told they are going to offer daily tours and are also planning to offer English language tours. So keep an eye on their website and inquire. At the moment they have daily tours during holiday periods and during the rest of the year only on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 12noon and 3pm.
"Der Spreekaiser" also offers Reichstag and Berlin Wall tours.
"The Fernsehturm is an impressive and iconic sight, soaring above the skyline of Berlin like a giant glistening golf ball skewered on a concrete spike, topped with a red and white flash. This product of the old DDR towered over their western counterparts, with the only blemish on its prideful socialist status being the golden cross it cast over the city when the sun reflected on it, a slightly embarrassing marker for an officially atheist state. It also offered sensational vistas from its viewing platform, 200 meters up the 365 meter structure." - from my travelogue
In German the words "fern" and "seh" literally mean far and see, but joined together they become "fernsehen", or television. This rather literal naming of the technology, gives Berlin's iconic TV Tower a doubly accurate meaning. It is both a television tower, and a far seeing tower. It is possible to see as far as 40 km on a clear day. It costs a slightly expensive 7 euros to be rocketed up to these dizzying heights, squeezed into lifts that travel at 6 meters per second. Depending on the day, you might have a long wait, though, as the queues can get very long. Nearly as bad as the Eiffel Tower.
From the top the views were excellent, and made all the better by the huge clear windows, which angled down onto the city to give the greatest field of view possible. The top of the tower also includes an extortionately expensive cafe bar, and above the observation deck there is a rotating restaurant, with similarly sky high prices.
The tower is open 9.00 am - 1.00 am, from March until October, and then 10.00 am - midnight the rest of the year. Tickets are half-price for those under 16.
The TV tower, known as the Fernsehturm or the Tele-spargel (toothpick) is one of the largest structures in Europe. The total length to the top of the spire is 365m or 1197 ft. It was built in 1969 by a team of architects with the help of Swedish experts. It contains a concrete shaft, a steel-cladded metal sphere and a TV antenna. The sphere contains a revolving restaurant (Telecafé) at 207m and a viewing platform at a height of 203m.
In 1969 two more monuments were added to the square, the Weltzeituhr (World Time Clock) by Erich John and the Fountain of International Friendship.
Berlin's highest edifice, the Fernsehturm; (TV-Tower), was opend in 1969 and is known to the vernacular as "Telespargel".
In clear weather you can enjoy a spectacular view over 40 kilometres fro its revolving Panorama café.
Opend: 9 -1 a.m (March-oct) and 9-0 a.m. (Nov - Feb)
Price: 6,50 Euro
I recall seeing the Fernsehturm (TV tower) from the former West Berlin in the 70's but never being able to visit and so it was really exciting to be able to actually walk up to it at ground level. Although I didn't go inside, it is possible for visitors to climb up the 362m tower for stunning views over the city. There is also a restaurant.
When the sun shines brightly on the globe, a distinct crucifix form is very apparent. Isn't it ironic? ;))
In the photo is also the steeple of the Marienkirche, Berlin's second oldest church after the Nickolaikirche.
This architectural symbol of East Germany was completed in 1969. I am sure that it was then an object of real pride and admiration. Its picture appeared also in all handbooks of German that we learned from in Polish schools. How I wished I could go to Berlin and climb the Tower to look at ' a better world' from its top. All these recollections came back vividly to me when I stood at the foot of this giant in May 2005.
The Tower is 368 metres high and in the ball there is a restaurant with a rotating floor.
986 steps lead to the top but of course there is no need to climb them, as there are two lifts to transport visitors.
The weight of the ball is 4.800 t.
The floor in the restaurant rotates twice an hour allowing the guests to admire the full panorama during one meal.
The Fernsehturm or television tower was built between 1965-9 by the former GDR and is the third tallest structure in Europe. The tower now stands at 368m and is visible throughout Berlin. The visitors platform, which is in the dome at 204m can be reached in 40 seconds by lift. The platform gives spectacular views of up to 40kms on a clear day. There is also a large restaurant which rotates every 30 minutes. Just like the the Gaint Ferris wheel in Vienna if you fancy a different wedding your can also get married in the tower followed by a reception in the restaurant.
The Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is located near Alexanderplatz and when someone tells you that "you can't miss it", they speak the truth. This is the tallest structure in Germany and stands 368 meters in height, so naturally it can be seen for miles around.
The tower was built in the years of the German Democratic Republic and is sometimes referred to as "The Pope's Revenge" because when the sun shines on the sphere, the reflection is that of a crucifix and try as they might to correct this phenomenon, nothing has ever worked and so it is still the same today.
This from Wiklipedia, refers to the "Tear down the wall" speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in 1987:
"Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexanderplatz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower's one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed."
There is a viewing platform about half way up, which is open to the public and attracts many hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Above the viewing platform is a revolving restaurant which fully rotates every thirty minutes.
As Germany spread away and two different countries appeared (and also two parts of Berlin) Soviet influenced German Demokratische Republic decided to build a new TV tower. In 1950 it was a plan to do it a bit outside of city, but in 1969 it started to work just in very center of Berlin, in Alexanderplatz. The place before was to construct it even instead of old Berlin palace.
Nowadays it is a symbol of Berlin reunification. It was a joke about TV tower, that it was still not so Soviet ideological, as the sunshine makes a reflection on TV tower observation part and reflection looks just like a cross - Christian symbol :)
It is possible to go up for a fee, but I haven't visited it.
At 368m, Berlin’s TV Tower is the tallest structure in Germany, so there’s no excuse for not seeing it.
There’s an enclosed viewing platform at 203 m, and fortunately you don’t have to climb the 986 steps because one of the two lifts will whisk you up there in just 40 seconds.
Almost 1.2 m visitors a year use these lifts, and as they don’t hold too many people, it’s no wonder waiting times can be long. If you don’t fancy queuing it’s possible to buy tickets for an extra premium. My advice would be to get there for the 09.00 opening if you can and buy a standard ticket.
On the viewing platform level is a bar, and above it is another level with a revolving restaurant which I have to admit I’ve never used.
The prime reason for building the TV Tower wasn’t to give tourists a grandstand view of Berlin of course, but to provide radio and television transmissions, and also no doubt, to make a political statement from the GDR authorities to West Berlin.
Construction on the tower started in 1965 and took four years to build with the first broadcasts beginning on 3rd October 1969. There are some interesting film clips of its construction dotted around the tower which are well worth looking at if you have an interest in these things.
Most people come up here purely for the views though, and although I’ve been up here twice I’ve never been lucky enough to get the views I was hoping for - and it’s also worth bearing in mind that the glass sphere makes the view less exciting than being on an outdoor platform.
The standard admission price is €13 which isn’t cheap, but with the Berlin Welcome Card it knocks it down to €10.
The tower is open from 09.00 (10.00 in winter) to midnight, but please check the website for all the latest info.
This is one of Berlin’s major attractions, and as such can get very busy. To ensure that the occasion isn’t unduly spoilt by too many people I would urge you to try and come at a time when it seems to make most sense.